Bill Would Help Provide Tribal And Rural Communities With The Resources To Expand Access To Telehealth And Distance Learning
WASHINGTON, DC – Last week, U.S. Senators Jacky Rosen (D-NV) and Cynthia Lummis (R-WY) introduced the bipartisan Strengthening Telehealth and Education for Rural Communities Act to help increase rural access to telehealth and education services. The legislation would reauthorize the Distance Learning and Telemedicine Grant program, which provides funding to tribal and rural communities in Nevada to facilitate telehealth and learning projects.
“At a time when every county across Nevada is being impacted by the doctor shortage, telehealth has become an essential tool for Nevadans in rural communities to access health services,” said Senator Rosen. “My bipartisan legislation will ensure communities have the resources and support they need so that families across Nevada can connect with their health care professionals and receive the care they need.”
“People living in rural Wyoming deserve the same access to health care and education that folks in urban areas have, and that can help be achieved through the utilization of telecommunications technology,” said Sen. Lummis. “Reauthorizing the Distance Learning Telemedicine Program will allow for rural areas in Wyoming, including tribes, to continue having access to this important funding.”
“Renown Regional Medical Center is the primary referral center for northern Nevada which includes approximately 1 million lives over 100,00 square miles,” said Richard King, MD, Division Chief Critical Care Medicine, Renown Regional Medical Center. “Developing a robust telemedicine program will allow access to specialty care, not readily available in our surrounding rural communities. Developing a robust telemedicine program will improve access to patients in these rural communities that would otherwise have to incur the cost and inconvenience of traveling far distances for specialty evaluation. Additionally, due to the geography and weather patterns during winter months in northern Nevada often times patients can not be transferred by ground or air to receive specialty evaluation and care. Telemedicine provides another opportunity to care for patients when they are unable to be transferred. Telemedicine is a powerful tool to help us achieve the mission of Renown Health in providing premier care to the northern Nevada region. It is for these reasons that I fully support this bill.”
“As a practicing cardiologist at Renown Regional Medical Center providing tertiary cardiovascular services to a catchment area of over 100,000 square miles, we face strains in meeting the demand for preventative and follow-up care services for our community,” said Jayson Morgan, MD, FACC, Director of Cardiovascular Services at Renown Health. “The Rosen-Lummis DLT Grant Program will provide opportunities and resources for our 17 referring rural hospitals and local communities to invest in resources to connect our specialists with their patients before they get admitted to the hospital and transferred to Renown. These grants and other investments in telehealth are critical to ensuring health equity in our rural communities and improving quality of care in our state. I offer my full support to the reauthorization of this bill.”
“The Nevada Primary Care Association thanks Senator Rosen for her proposal to reauthorize the Distance Learning and Telemedicine Grant Program,” said Steve Messinger, Policy Director for Nevada Primary Care Association. “Among the lower 48 states, Nevada faces unique challenges in providing access to high-speed internet across vast open distances. According to FCC data, 18 percent of Nevada’s counties have less than one percent of their population with access to fixed broadband service that meets the national standard. This is about six times the share of extremely underserved counties in the next highest state meeting these criteria. The area covers more than 20,000 square miles—larger than Vermont and New Hampshire combined and more than twice the area of all other extremely underserved counties in the continental United States. Senator Rosen’s persistent focus on this issue is helping to reduce these disparities, and this reauthorization is an important step to continue this progress.”
Senator Rosen continues to fight for resources to connect more Nevadans to high-speed internet and increase telemedicine access. Senator Rosen recently secured $416 million to connect Nevada households to high-speed internet. She also successfully pushed the Federal Communications Commission to update its National Broadband Map that was used to determine the funding the state received. Senator Rosen also secured over $43 million to connect more than 21,000 locations in Nevada to high-speed internet through her Middle Mile Broadband Deployment Act.